Okay, I think we managed to find some time when we weren't too exhausted to write a review of Sailor Moon Eternal Edition volume 3, and that's good, because this review is probably going to take some brain power. This book was translated over the course of six months or seven months, which is super long considering we've been averaging about two books a week or so for the last few months. What happened was, when production finally went into full swing, we and our editor got this really cool idea that maybe we could do a volume a month, and have the whole series done (translation-wise) by the end of 2017. So we started translating this volume in March, and we even completed a first draft. It was the beginning of a new arc, so we had some questions we wanted to go over with our editor about terminology and stuff before we started on a final draft. Well, she got super busy, and she wasn't able to get back to us until about September. But that was fine, because we were so super busy that there would have been no way to fit a Sailor Moon edit in anywhere, except maybe for when we took time off to go to Japan. I mean, we wouldn't have been able to fit a normal extra edit in, but these volumes of Sailor Moon are twice as long as average, and Sailor Moon is surprisingly difficult to edit. (Maybe it's not so surprising if you're familiar with the Japanese dialogue, but the point is, it's extremely time-consuming.) In fact, by the time we started it up again, around the beginning of October, our deadline was the end of October...but because it was so time-consuming, we had to ask for an extension and we didn't actually finish it until the end of November. What I'm saying is, this volume was hard. Only it wasn't really harder than average for Sailor Moon; we just had so much more else going on...which is saying a lot, considering how much we had going on when we did volumes one and two.
I think the biggest challenge we faced was dealing with what we came to call the Beguiling Black Crystal. I think the struggle is summed up fairly well in the translation notes, so telling the story here may just be unneeded repetition. We sent a long email to our editor about it, too. I think our main problem was that the previous version, Malefic Black Crystal, just sounded off to us. And I don't know if that's a fair assessment, because it might have just been a snooty, "I wouldn't have translated it that way!" So if you like malefic, go ahead and keep it that way in your internal glossaries.
We also wondered if maybe, since Evil Black Crystal really does seem like...okay, so it was revealed that the Black Moon clan does know that the crystal's power is evil, but it still seemed like, when you're trying to recruit people to your side, coming out and saying, "Hey, I have an evil crystal you could use!" seems like not the best PR move. Malefic works for that, because it's only super obvious that it means evil if you A)have a big vocabulary and already know that word, or B)have studied romantic languages enough to know that "mal" means "bad" or "evil." But anyway, we thought maybe it wasn't so obviously evil in Japanese. Like the Evil Eye--it has "evil" in it, but it doesn't really seem to have a connotation of actually being evil. But that comes from years of using it in somewhat different capacities than literally cursing people (Wikipedia tells us there are protective "evil eye" talismans). So we did a bunch of research and mostly we just discovered that yeah, that ja does mean evil. We looked into the radicals on the kanji and all kinds of things, and it was all pretty much the same. But we still felt like "malefic" felt off, so we researched the different language versions of the crystal's name, and we found out there are a bunch of words in other languages that means "black" and "evil," but of course none of those would work, because the readers wouldn't know those languages. And they already know it as the "Black Crystal," so we needed both of those words. That's the same problem we ran into when...
Okay, so I think the translation notes might not state it outright, but they at least heavily imply that we're basically equating the Black Crystal with the Philosopher's Stone (or some evil version of it). The hints are all there in the manga, so we're pretty sure Naoko Takeuchi was doing the same thing. That being the case, we did wonder if there was some way to more clearly equate the Black Crystal with the Philosopher's Stone, and there were some real cool ways we could have done that, but none of them had "black crystal" in them, so we gave up on that idea. Frankly, I think even the "black" wasn't 100% necessary, but to juxtapose it with the Silver Crystal, then "crystal" certainly was. So after all that research, we were just about ready to give up and go with malefic for consistency (and I admit, I do feel like we need to knock it off a little with the changing everything willy-nilly; just because somebody else came up with those words doesn't make them wrong! (and doesn't make us lazy for not coming up with our own)), but as we were writing the email to our editor, we remembered that ja with a different kanji means snake. And in GetBackers, Ban (one of the main characters) has two main powers: a snakebite (superpowerful grip) and an Evil Eye, only they use the kanji for snake instead of the normal one for jagan. And they made his zodiac the snake one (Ophiochus?) that nobody paid attention to until a few years after GetBackers, when all the scientists were all like, "You've been doing astrology all wrong!" So then we had to look into ways to combine the two, because we thought it was a neat connection (although admittedly, we don't know if Naoko Takeuchi was making it). And then we came up with Beguiling Black Crystal, and it sounded nice and poetic and like the kind of thing a giant cursed gemstone would be named, so we liked it and we stuck with it. The end.
Other than that, the main challenge was that there were SO many words. We used to recommend Sailor Moon to people who were starting to learn Japanese, because, not really thinking clearly, we were like, "Half the vocabulary is in English!" We forgot (probably because, since it was the first manga we read in Japanese, so a lot of stuff didn't get processed and therefore was not registered in our memories) just how many words there were, making the ratio of English to Japanese much lower. Seriously, it's like half the speech bubbles in this book contain short novels. It was ridiculous. Especially after they met King Endymion.
But there was one other thing that nearly destroyed us, and that is Chiral and Achiral. They were probably worse than the whole Okuninushi-spider-bear thing in Noragami. We spent hours trying to figure out what was going on. Mostly it was the "electro side chain" thing. We figured out what a side chain was pretty quickly, but we couldn't for the life of us find anything that explained what the word "electro" would do to it. And since the previous edition had a note that was all, "Here's some scientific words; good luck figuring out what they mean!", we couldn't just leave them unnoted! It was so frustrating, too, because the rest of their sciencey stuff was pretty easy to figure out, except for the chiral center being a magnetic field. We don't know if that's really a thing, but we figured it's sci-fi, and therefore whatever. The problem was, boule crystals are related to electrochemistry and organic chemistry, but chiral and achiral stuff is generally talked about in biochemistry, and...oh, it was just a nightmare for our chemistry-challenged brains. Chemistry was always the hardest science for us. Anyway, we did the best we could, and I think the rest of the hard work we put into this volume will make it a winner even if we didn't hit a homerun with the Boule Brothers.
Okay, so what happens in this volume! It has Sailor Mars on the cover, but she's only in the first chapter and then gets kidnapped! Athena summarized: Chibi Usa shows up, then they kidnap Mars, then they kidnap Mercury, then they kidnap Jupiter, then they don't kidnap Venus, then they go to the future, meet Endymion, and Sailor Moon gets kidnapped. The end. No, the end is when Wiseman finds Chibi Usa! Dun dun DUN!!! (We found out from My Little Pony closed captions that that "dun dun DUN" is called a "horror sting.")
A lot of people think of this as the weakest arc of Sailor Moon, and I admit I tend to agree, but now that we're going into the manga in so much depth, I do think it's better than I've given it credit for. There was one thing in particular that had me like, "Oh, it all comes together!" but I don't remember what it was. There is a lot of angst, though, and it is a little silly. Oh! That's what it was! It was Usagi's angst. Her powers weren't working right, and everybody else is like, "Oh, I guess it's because time travel and silver crystals don't really mix," but when you think about it, she was using it when Chibi Usa was right there with the Silver Crystal from the future, so the whole "two crystals in the same place nullifies them" theory doesn't work. But then! when she's alone in Demande's palace, she finally has some time to sort out her emotions, and she realizes that the Crystal's power all depends on her heart, and she's been in such turmoil all this time, that of course it was getting weaker. So she was being pretty silly to be jealous of Chibi Usa, but first, she realized she was being silly, and second, it was a much more reasonable explanation as to why the crystal wasn't working.
Then there's Mamoru. Athena explained just now that probably the reason he's so gung-ho about protecting Chibi Usa isn't that he cares more about her than about Usagi, but because he knows he can protect her. All through the volume, he's constantly whining to himself about how he wishes he could protect her, but he just doesn't think he has the power to do it. To be fair, Sailor Moon does have to deliberately run into extremely life-threatening situations, while Chibi Usa, who doesn't have to fight, can be taken over to the sidelines for easier protection. And I talk about how whiny he is, but I do think it's sweet. Plus, he's still a teenager, and even though they beat the Dark Kingdom, they're all still relatively new to the superhero thing, so it makes sense that he would feel a little out of his element. If only he could see himself through Asanuma-kun's eyes...
But speaking of Mamo-chan's angsty monologues, I have to say how amused I am about him taking the black crystal earring for an analysis. It makes you think he, the super genius that he is, is going to take it to a lab and do scientific tests or something, but no, he takes it to his apartment, where he asks his supermodels-turned-gemstones for a psychic reading on it. It makes sense in the context, but when you take it out of context like that, you have to admit it's pretty funny. And in relation to that, I did take down a note that I wanted to share in regards to why we didn't want to translate jakoku suisho to the apparent fan favorite (based on one Sailor Moon Wiki) of "Evil Black Crystal." Mamoru has the crystal in the petri dish, and Chibi Usa sees it and starts freaking out, and they ask, "Is this jakoku suisho scaring you?" Now try it this way, "Is this Evil Black Crystal scaring you?" Gee, I can't imagine why.
We wrote down two more notes about translating that we thought might be interesting to share. I'll just copy and paste this recreation of the thought process that went behind some of the dialogue from the "Mamoru and Usagi are about to make love" scene:
"I want you with me always." Can you imagine a dude saying that? [This is where we think of male characters (or their actors) who might actually say a line like this, because if we can imagine them saying it seriously, we think it's fair to assume that it's not too unnatural.] Adrien [from Miraculous, which we watch in French]! No, someone who speaks English. Chris Evans...not quite. Tate Donovan [Disney's Hercules]? ...Maybe with a comma? ...Yeah...
So that's how we got that line, which may or may not have been changed by the editor, anyway. (We've had a lot of editors changing stuff on us lately, so we're a little jaded about that kind of thing.) Another lesson here: punctuation matters.
We also wanted to point something out about a line Esmeraude says to Demande. One of the annoying things about Sailor Moon villains is they always come along and say, "I, [state your name], will take on this assignment!" And that's just not something we do in America, or at least in American entertainment. (It's totally a thing in Japanese, though, and well within correct Japanese grammar, so don't go getting any funny ideas about how Japanese just isn't written very well. Although I will admit (though not a native speaker), that it sounds a little over-the-top as compared to our other manga experience.)
So Esmeraude comes along and says, "I, Esmeraude, will capture Neo Queen Serenity for you." But this one was a little extra problematic (not in a social justice way; in a linguistic way), because she's been in the series for a while by now, and it's pretty clear that everybody already knows her name. The one thing that made this pattern easy to deal with was that it always felt like the characters were introducing themselves, so it was okay to translate it likewise. But this time, not so much. She's basically just talking about herself in the third person. So when you read it, that's why you'll read her calling herself "faithful Esmeraude." I don't remember the rest of the line, so I can't explain all the reasoning, but we wanted to point out that we added faithful, because we felt the best way to make the line sound natural was to add an adjective for Esmeraude to describe herself with. And the reason I feel the need to point this out is that, in all our escapades with editors changing things, we recently had one editor explain that leaving a translation the way we had it was putting too much into the English, and a reader might come along and say, "Nuh-uh! That's not what she said!" And here we are fully admitting that Esmeraude did not call herself faithful, but we will fight to defend this translation, because we stand by it. And that's generally how we feel about our translations, although there was an instance in Fire Force recently-ish, where our editor asked, "Is that really what you want?" and we were like, "...Yeah, no, I think we were just tired." But! we were still able to defend the choice as valid; just not necessarily very good.
But I feel like I should get back to the story. It's kind of nice that we get a chapter focusing on individual guardians, but a bummer that each of those chapters results in the loss of that guardian. And we learn just a liiiiiittle tiny bit more about each of them before they get abducted. I guess they didn't feel the need to do that for Minako because she has a whole series about her. Of course, we once again changed the name of the four sisters, because we just can't do anything without changing it. But "Spectre" was just so specific, and Noragami tells us that ayakashi is generic. And I have to rant about this again. Somehow the fans have learned that an ayakashi is a specific kind of water spirit? That information is not incorrect, but it's only part of the picture. Ayakashi is a blanket term for supernatural phenomenon, and you will see how much more sense that makes in most things that use the term ayakashi (Noragami, some anime we watched that referred to all supernatural creatures as Ayakashi...I think it was called Ayakashi Ayashi...? I don't remember), including Sailor Moon. I mean hello, each of the sisters has one supernatural power, and only one of them could be specifically called "related to water," even though Berthier uses it to do things that are more about finding people than specifically water-related things. So we went with the Supernatural Sisters because we felt it was more accurate.
I was supposed to be talking about the story. I think it's interesting that they're going around telling people who they are. I guess Motoki's proven that he can be trusted, and Makoto was sick when she told Asanuma. Rei couldn't really hide anything from Kotono, because Kotono saw the spontaneous combustion.
Right, Sailor Pluto! Of course I have to talk about her. When Viz started streaming the original anime on Hulu, we rewatched the whole thing, and I have to say, in the anime, Pluto seems kind of useless. She literally had one job--to guard the time door--and not only was she letting the badguys go through willy-nilly, but when the one group of people who might reasonably be allowed to use the door came along, she attacked them. Come on, Pluto, get with the program; this is why you were demoted [to dwarf planet]. But in the manga, it makes a little more sense, because it's clearer that the Black Moon is using a different route through the time rift, and that their crystal allows them to do things that the good guys might not expect. So Pluto gets her cred back. It also makes more sense that she attacked Sailor Moon when you consider that Chibi Usa ran off without asking her, so she wouldn't necessarily be expecting Sailor Moon to visit. On the other hand, even if the law "must not be broken," would it really be a good idea to wipe Sailor Moon from existence? And then there's the whole, "I don't care who you are--I'm going to enforce the law! ...Oh, unless you're Chibi Usa. She's cool." I know she's your best friend and all, but I thought you said it doesn't matter who breaks the law, they must be punished. It just seems a lot double standardy. Athena likes to think that she was only threatening to destroy them, to make the whole incident scary, so when she sent them back to their own time, possibly with memories of the event erased, they would still have that fear ingrained in them in case they tried to do it again.
Then there's King Endymion. It wasn't until we read the manga this time that we realized just how psychic Mamoru is. We were always under the impression that the King Endymion they spoke to was a hologram or something, but apparently he's more of an astral projection--a ghost. And I guess he can do that because of his psychic powers. And I guess those psychic powers are also how he was able to keep an eye on Chibi Usa throughout her adventures. And how he managed to talk through time to Mamoru. It may seem ridiculous, but when you realize that Endymion told Mamoru to command the crystal at his feet to shatter, and it worked, and that was before he had a thousand years to master those powers, you realize that King Endymion must be, like, super amazingly powerful.
But then there's this business of Neo Queen Serenity never leaving the palace. That makes absolutely no sense based on Usagi's personality. Either the other guardians are enough entertainment for her, or they must have built the best arcade / theme park you could ever imagine inside that castle. On the other hand, Neo Queen Serenity being such a wonderful "lady," does indicate that Usagi has matured at least a little. In fact, the only comment about Neo Queen Serenity that meshes with Usagi's personality is when Pluto says she and Chibi Usa were both always a handful. So many questions about this "Neo Queen Serenity."
I think that's everything. I will say it's a shame the Crystal anime wasn't better, because Mamoru Miyano really is the perfect choice for Prince Demande. Oh! and we have a friend who's always saying that she doesn't understand Pluto and why she's so loyal to the Silver Millennium. We keep telling her that loyalty is an admirable trait in Japan, even though it may seem counterintuitive to the independent-minded culture of the United States. And then we're like, "Oh yeah, and she's crushing on King Endymion." Athena points out that, in Pluto's defense, he is practically the only guy who ever talks to her, so it's definitely reasonable for her to have a fondness for him. Man, those Earth imports to the Silver Millennium, always chatting up the "solitary" sentinel. No wonder things got so messed up! (I kid. I think it's ridiculous for her to have to be alone all the time.) Anyway, it seems that Chibi Usa has inherited her mother's penchant for unreasonable jealousy, but in her defense, when we were in elementary school (and I think even high school...and college...), we would get jealous when we heard about our friends hanging out and having fun without us. So we can't judge her too harshly for that. Now she feels like no one truly loves her, and that sends her off into Wiseman's clutches. Dun dun DUN!!!
And NOW I think that's everything. Of course we're always happy to talk about Sailor Moon, so if you have anything to add, please comment!
Aww, what a great series. Such a handful. I guess that's just the nature of Usagi.
This week we have two new releases! Including this one, Sailor Moon Eternal Edition 3! And the other one is Love in Focus 1! A new series! And you guys, it's super cute! It's by the creator of That Wolf-Boy Is Mine!, so if you liked that one, I would definitely recommend this one! And tune in next week for our review of it!
Today I'm thankful for finishing work miraculously early, getting to post a Sailor Moon review, getting to write a Hatsu*Haru review, the very brief rain we just got, and getting to go to a Relief Society activity.